Stockholm, Part I

This past weekend I was in Stockholm.  Man was it cold!

I had to go to a meeting for work on Monday so I decided to go for the weekend and see something of the city.  My bum knee (which I will get around to writing about at some point) kept me from walking as much as I wanted to, but I still got around to the main part of the city.

Above is a photo taken at about 2pm on Saturday afternoon.  The morning was gloriously sunny with bright sparkling snow everywhere, but by noon the clouds came over and made it a little colder.  We had a high of about -7C (20F) that day.  This is a city park that is turned in a skating area in winter.  Everyone brought their own skates from home.  There’s a speaker system playing music for the skaters and there are lights rigged up all around.  At one point there was an announcement and everyone left the skating area.  It was then that I noticed the Zamboni off to one side waiting for its turn to hit the ice.

You know it really says “Zamboni” on the front of this thing.  It’s right between the headlights.  That cracked me up for some reason.

C. had given me the address of a yarn shop that she especially liked in Stockholm.  That’s the one shop where I spent money on this trip.  And I didn’t spend a lot.  This shop is called Garnverket.  I took the subway to get there.  Stockholm has the coolest subway!  The walls are covered in art.  Every stop has its own style and artist.  Very cool.

Anyway, I didn’t buy much at Garnverket.  They had a lot of Drops and Rowan yarns, plus another brand that I hadn’t heard of but is made in Turkey.  I couldn’t resist these Drops skeins:

You thought they were Noro didn’t you!  Nope, Drops.  Four times cheaper and without the sticks.  These have “Fingerless Mitts for Mandy” written all over them.

Now, THESE are special.  They are organic yarn, without even a label or company tag on them.  I asked where they came from and she said simply “Swedish yarn from Gotland“.

It’s not terribly soft wool.  It feels Shetland-ish.  It’s lace weight and will be perfect for some two color lace brioche.  I really like these two colors together – like moss on granite.

And that’s it for Stockholm Part I.  Part II will be a longer story about the Nordic Museum and photos of Stockholm and boats in ice and my musings on why can’t Amsterdam be more like Stockholm.  Don’t miss it!

Wool Frenzy

I’m loving making these little fingerless mitts.  Talk about instant gratification!  They are knitting up incredibly fast.  The pattern is Merletto Mitts.  I’ve made them shorter than the pattern calls for and on 1 size smaller needles.  I have small hands and arms so they fit perfectly this way.

The yarn is Supreme Merino/Possum.  Actually it’s 50% merino, 40% possum and 10% silk.  There’s a nice halo to the yarn and it is super warm.  Possum is a hollow hair and is actually warmer than wool.  I should say “fur” and not “hair”.  The ball band says “fur”.  We had a discussion at Monday night SnB, trying to decide when to say “hair” and when to say “fur”.  We decided it had to do with domestication of the animal.  If domesticated, then “hair”.  Cat hair.  Dog hair.  Hamster hair.  But mink fur and lion fur and wolf fur.  Wolf fur?  Maybe it’s not a water tight definition.

Anyway, these will be done before I know it, which will be perfect timing to start my February socks and Olympic mitts.

One week ago I had the day off and decided to try my hand at the madness that is a Wollmeise online shop update.  I’d read about it.  I wondered if the rumors were true.  It was time to find out.

I began stalking the site at around 7.20am Friday morning.  I went to the instock page and refreshed the page every couple of minutes.  At around 08.00 (while I was reading blogs and the news and generally surfing around), the refresh resulted in a grey screen.  AH!  According to sources who know, a grey screen means an imminent update.  Refresh, refresh, refresh….. And behold!  A screen that showed the latest shop updates!  Lovely red and green and deep blue skeins of yarn appeared on the page.  Click! Click! Click!  Add to basket!  Quick! See what else is available!  The frenzy had started.  That’s enough I thought.  Four skeins.  Let’s not get greedy.  Now, go to basket and check out.  But wait!  HEY!  Who stole my skeins???  My basket was suddenly down to 3!  Click Click, then down to 2! Down to 1!  Now hold on just a darn pickin’ minute!  Quick buy that 1 skein before it too disappears!  Over to PayPal and done.  Phew.  Back to the web shop and see if there’s anything left.  Just a few, here and there.  Click click check out pay for goods over to PayPal.  And one more skein is mine.

I had no idea that other people who are faster over to the PayPal end of things could actually steal products from your shopping cart!  It was certainly a feeding frenzy.  The skein I really wanted, a deep midnight blue, was grabbed out from under me.  I’ll have to try again another time.  After I get some more energy to face the hoards at that time of the morning.

Here’s what came in the mail late this week (which is some seriously fast shipping).

This is the “Pini” color above, and “Red Hot Chili” below.  I don’t know yet what I will do with them, but I WILL use them (unlike some Wollmeise collectors who only use them to taunt the rest of us with their riches in stash).

Tomorrow long before dawn I’m off to Stockholm for the weekend.  I have a meeting there on Monday so I decided to take advantage of the company paid ticket to spend the weekend and see something of the city.  Saturday I’ll get to at least one yarn shop and Sunday to the Nordic Museum.  Watch for photos coming your way!

The First FO for 2010

It’s DONE!  YIPPEE!  I’m FREEEEEEE!

I start this scarf in September 2008.  DB picked out the yarn in New Zealand in 2007.  I knit half of it and ripped it all out.  But last week, finally finally, I finished it.

I’m very happy with the results.  It’s fingering weight yarn and this second try is knit with 2 strands held together, on size 6 (4mm) needles.  Knit all the stitches on one side, and K1/P1 on the other side.  It’s just stretchy enough and it’s very soft and lovely to wear against the skin.  It’s New Zealand Merino after all – the softest wool in the world.

The yarn is dyed in rainbow colors that zigzag back and forth throughout the entire scarf.  After knitting, it was very curly and wouldn’t lay flat at all.  I soaked it in water and pinned it out to block.  After it dried I steamed it gently with my steam iron.  It doesn’t curl anymore and it feels even softer.  I don’t think he’s going to share it with me.

So, now that I’m FREE, what am I going to knit next?  Oh I have a list…..

Starting on February 1, I’m casting on KawKawEsque from Yarnissima.  It will be part of yet another SKA KAL (Sock Knitters Anonymous Knit Along) from the Ravelry group.

Starting on the MOMENT of the beginning of the Olympics, also in February, I’ll be casting on some Selbu mittens as part of Team Pootje Over Ravolympics event “Mitten Moguls”.

(Are you digging all the lingo?)

I’m working on a test knit of a new brioche lace shawl that Nancy has designed.  That has come to a halt while Nancy is making some updates, so, in the meantime I’ve cast on…

Merletto Mitts by javajem.  I need them desperately!  It’s so cold at work.  I wear big puffy sweaters but my hands are still cold.  I need these to wear while I work.  Never mind that they could just TURN UP THE HEAT.

I’m making them from some super luscious yarn that deserves a web post all by itself, so I won’t tell you about it just yet.  It’s soft and just a little fluffy and warmer than wool.  Hmmmm, what do you think it is?  Any guesses?

Where Have I Been?

I’ve been working like a fiend, that’s where I’ve been!

Since going back to work 4 Jan, I’ve been working very long hours, coming home late, eating a bite and then falling into bed.  It’s the year end and we close the books and create all the reports.  I think it’s over now and I can go back to normal (longer than most people) hours.

This is my excuse for not posting and not having any photos to show you.  I will say that it has warmed up about 5 degrees C in the past few days and the snow and ice are finally melting.  We scooped the last of the snow off the car last night and drove to the grocery store.  DB was afraid it might not start but I had no doubts.  It wasn’t THAT cold.  It’s not like Sweden or Colorado or Vermont after all.

Speaking of Sweden, I’m going there next weekend!  I have a meeting in Stockholm a week from Monday and I figured I might as well go for the weekend.  The company picks up the flight anyway and it only costs me one night in a hotel.  I’ve already picked out yarn stores to visit on Saturday and a museum for Sunday.  Should be interesting!

I’ll be back tomorrow with photos and a very exciting (for me anyway) FO to show you.  Promise.

Nothing Like Snow

This is what our street looked like last night when I finally got home.  All that traffic isn’t normal, but everything was backed up with the snow.  Tonight when I got home it wasn’t much different.  This is far more snow that we are used to having here in NL.  This is not normal!

The trains are not running normally these days.  Yesterday I wandered around the Haarlem train station for an hour before I got on a train to Amsterdam that was actually going to move.  Last night all the trains between Amsterdam and Haarlem were cancelled for several hours.  Finally after 7pm there were trains running ONLY between these cities and not going further.  It was a mess!  When I finally got on a train, our only stop between these central stations was in Sloterdijk.  When we cruised up to the platform there I could see people along the platform 3 and 4 deep.  They CHEERED when we stopped there!  They had been waiting in the cold for a train for 2 hours!

Some kids in our neighborhood made a snow creature.

Lots of people just left their bikes parked in the snow. But actually a lot of people also continued to bike like usual.  Slowly, carefully, sometimes with their feet dragging along the ground to keep from slipping.  Me, I took the bus.

Last night in the packed train, and then in the packed bus, I listened to all the people talking.  They were laughing and shrugging shoulders (“what can you do?”).  They were actually talking to each other!  Total strangers were sharing stories about how they tried to get home from work, or to get to the grocery store, or how their car got stuck.  They were friendly and open.

I started to wonder – is it just that hardship brings people together?  Or does snow actually make people more cheerful?  Maybe people here are always so aggressive and silent and grumpy in their daily commutes because, strangely, life is just too easy here.  Maybe we NEED some universal hardship, like bad weather, to bring us together and allow us to feel united enough to talk and share.

People are strange.

Me, I love the snow.  I got off the bus last night and pulled out my camera and started taking photos of the cars crawling by and the trees covered in snow.  It makes me smile and makes me feel like a kid again.

Maybe that’s all it was.

Dinner and a Movie

Tonight we went to see Avatar at the IMAX theater in 3D and I only have this to say:

GO SEE THIS MOVIE, IN 3D, DO NOT DELAY, DO NOT WAIT FOR THE DVD, GO SEE IT NOW.

This is the best movie I’ve seen in, oh, I don’t know how long.  It’s beautiful.  It holds you enthralled for the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes.  I want to go back and see it again and I NEVER feel like that after a movie.  I will even go back and fight the crowds at the IMAX, that’s just how good this movie is.

Up until tonight I always thought that 3D was overrated.  All of the previews I’d seen were just full of gratuitous 3D nonsense that added nothing to the story at all.  This was different.  Once your eyes get used to the 3D glasses and movement, you really lose yourself in the movie and it’s just an all encompassing experience.  After seeing it this way I think seeing the movie on DVD at home would be a let down.  So take my advice, GO SEE THIS MOVIE ON A BIG SCREEN IN 3D.  TODAY.

I think I have to write James Cameron a thank you email.  Thank you for this movie.

Oh yeah, the dinner part.  We got out of the movie at 8pm and there wasn’t much around for food so we stopped at McDonald’s.  We NEVER eat McD’s.  But there we were.  I think we were still in a daze from the movie.  After the delicious dinner we drove back home to sit in our chilly living room.  I hope I dream of Pandora tonight.